This is the ninth of a series of posts reflecting line-by-line on the Anima Christi.
“From the malicious enemy, defend me.”
Every Sunday for months now, after receiving communion, I have been slowly saying the Anima Christi prayer, savoring the words as I say them. Knowing this post was coming up, I found myself lingering on this line: From the malicious enemy defend me. Each time I pondered it and wondered what sort of reflection I could write on this.
I should not have worried. The Holy Spirit had it under control. As my family has worked through a sudden fear of the dark our three year old twins have developed, I have found myself reflecting on darkness, evil spirits, the devil, guardian angels, and the prayers we invoke during times when we feel under attack. All perfectly timed contemplations.
“From the malicious enemy …”
Although we don’t see him, the devil is always looking for ways to turn us away from God. He would like nothing more than for us to believe that God does not exist. The enemy is conniving and smart. He knows how to make evil and sin look tempting and harmless and even like innocent fun. As the prayer says, he is malicious.
Malicious is the adjective of the noun malice, which is defined as a “desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness” (dictionary.com).
This makes me think of how the devil uses humans in his hatred for God. All that the devil does is because of his mean-spiritedness. The Evil One hates humans because we were created by God, in his image and likeness, and then God became man, one of us, thus lifting humans to a place of importance in the heavenly Kingdom. The devil hates this and wants to get back at God. The devil delights in causing humans to fall out of God’s favor. He is Enemy Number One.
In previous lines we have asked for strength, asked Jesus to hide us, and begged Him to not let us be separated from Him. Here we identify the threat we fear. It is the devil, the evil one, the enemy.
“… defend me.”
Two simple words. It is hard to imagine the power of these two words. The devil works hard to get to us. VERY hard. He never stops. He works hard on those close to Christ and those who are striving to lead holy lives and build strong relationships with Christ. He works hardest on those that devote their lives to serving Christ, particularly our priests without whom we would not have the Eucharist. But no matter how hard Enemy Number One works, we have Jesus on our side. These two simple words carry great power. As I pray through the Anima Christi, I now find myself slowing down through this line and savoring these last two words. My heart feels at peace as they roll off my tongue.
Jesus loves us and wants us with Him. He wants to protect us like a father protects His children. He desires to come to our aid when we are threatened. The hard part for us, often, is to remember to call on Him.
“From the malicious enemy defend me.”
For me, praying through the words of this prayer each week is a gentle reminder of how much I am loved by my Heavenly Father. This line in particular brings a sense of peacefulness as I am reminded that Jesus has laid claim on my soul and all I have to do is choose to follow Him. By doing so, Jesus will defend me against the evil spirits that are working hard in the world to claim souls away from God.
I pray that we will all turn away from evil, seek solace in Christ Jesus, and be together in the Heavenly Kingdom one day.